In the first large scale and long-term clinical trial on the subject, researchers found that men taking a daily multivitamin did not have a reduced chance of heart disease. While the multivitamin didn’t cause harm, taking them didn’t prevent heart attack, stroke or cardiovascular death among men 50 and older.
Results of the study of 14,641 male physicians from the U.S. were recently presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2012. Participants had relatively good eating habits and were followed for more than 11 years with more than 1,700 major cardiovascular disease events occurring during the follow up.
Multivitamins and Heart Disease
“Americans are in love with vitamins and supplements,” says Cleveland Clinic Cardiovascular Surgeon Marc Gillinov, MD. “In this prospective trial there was no cardiovascular benefit to a multivitamin each day. That is no surprise to us.”
The lead researcher, Howard D. Sesso, ScD, MPH, of Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston said at least one third of all U.S. adults take a multivitamin daily, making it the most common supplement. While the most common reason for taking them is to prevent vitamin and mineral deficiency, there has always been conjecture that they could help with other health issues such as cardiovascular disease.
Multivitamins and Cancer
Dr. Gillinov went on to say that, the trial did suggest a potential benefit in terms of cancer reduction. “But these findings need to be investigated further before we can confirm that multivitamins prevent any cancers,” he says. “In fact, other studies have found that some vitamin supplements actually appear to increase the risk of cancer.”
The Bottom Line
So what is the bottom line? Do you need a daily multivitamin? Says Dr. Gillinov, “Unless you have a nutritional deficiency or a specific issue such as pregnancy or osteoporosis, vitamin and mineral supplements likely do no good.”
According to the AHA, the best way to get the right nutrients and achieve overall health is to eat a balanced diet that is “high in fruits and vegetables, fiber-rich whole grains, contains oily fish twice per week, is low in saturated fat and sodium and limited in added sugars and trans fats.”